Great Britain

Merkel rejects AstraZeneca vaccine and sticks to Germany’s under-65 guidelines

Angela Merkel has rejected a suggestion she receive the AstraZeneca vaccine against coronavirus in order to “lead by example”.

Take-up of the jab has been low in Germany, which has only approved it for use in people aged 65 or younger.

Some 1.4 million doses remain in storage due to reticence among Germans, reports suggest.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Ms Merkel responded to the idea she should “lead by example” and be vaccinated on camera to mitigate this “acceptance problem”.

She said: “I am 66 years old and I do not belong to the group recommended for AstraZeneca.”

Asked whether she could be given another vaccine instead, she added: “I think it is right, in addition to the particularly vulnerable and the elderly, to first invite population groups who cannot keep their distance in their job to be vaccinated.

“We can sit at a great distance from one another during this interview. A kindergarten teacher, a primary school teacher, cannot do that. These are the people who should get their turn in front of someone like me.”

Germany has recorded 2,424,684 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 69,519 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

"Our top priority now is speeding up the production and delivery of vaccines and vaccinations," EU Council president Charles Michel said on Friday.

He added a warning for vaccine makers, saying: "We want more predictability and transparency to ensure that pharmaceutical companies comply with their commitments."

The European Commission has signed agreements with several firms for more than 2 billion vaccine doses – well above the bloc’s population figure of 450 million – but only three have been authorised: jabs from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Officials say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be approved next month.

Additional reporting by agencies

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